Best Destinations for Fall Birding
Fall is a thrilling time for bird watchers! As birds migrate around the USA and the world, fall is an opportunity to catch glimpses of bird species you won’t be able to see any other time of year.
With many species following the same southbound path year after year, bird watchers have been able to pin down the best destinations in the US for fall birding.
Whether you’ve been at it for years or are just getting started on your avian adventure, you won’t want to miss these opportunities for some of the best birding the US has to offer.
Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary - Naples, Florida
While Corkscrew Swamp is a sanctuary for many types of wildlife, it’s most well known for its abundance of bird species.
Many species of wading birds, including storks and herons, call Corkscrew Swamp home all year round, but the swamp really becomes a popular destination for fall birding when northern songbirds arrive seeking refuge in Florida’s warmer climate.
Keep an eye out for a variety of storks, herons, cardinals, warblers, woodpeckers, hawks, and hummingbirds!
Best time to visit: November
Sky Islands - Arizona
The Sky Islands is a mountain range cutting through southwestern Arizona to northern Mexico, They rise over 6,000 feet above the desert, creating drastically different, isolated environments on the mountaintops.
These unique environments allow bird watchers to view species you won’t find anywhere else in the US. Some are species native to Mexico trapped in these small pockets of suitable habitat.
In early fall, you can spot a variety of vibrant hummingbirds, including rare species like the Violet-Crowned Hummingbird.
Best time to visit: August - September
Cape May, New Jersey
Cape May is such a popular fall birding destination that the city hosts a birding festival every October. There are several locations around the city and the nearby coastline designated for bird watching in different seasons.
The city is located on a small peninsula, so it works as a funnel to catch many southbound birds on their way to their winter homes.
Depending on when you go, you will be able to see many species of hawks, falcons, and eagles on their migratory route!
Best time to visit: September - November
Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge - Forest City, Missouri
The Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge is a resting spot for migrating waterfowl in both the spring and fall. Tens of thousands of birds come in flocks to rest their wings and grab a bite to eat on their way to their winter destination.
But it’s not just the geese and ducks of the wetlands that draw bird watchers!
Bald Eagles also enjoy spending the winters at Squaw Creek. You can see them begin to arrive in late fall.
Best time to visit: October - November
St. Croix National Scenic Riverway - St. Croix Falls, Missouri
The St. Croix National Scenic Riverway is made from the Namekagon and St. Croix rivers. It includes over 200 miles of freshwater. Combined with the abundant forests, it is a perfect winter destination for migrating waterfowl.
The main attraction for fall birders is the opportunity to catch a glimpse of the rare Trumpeter Swan. This species is native to the US and was hunted almost to extinction. While still uncommon, thanks to decades of conservation efforts, the Trumpeter Swan is now considered a recovering species.
Look for this rare bird in open-water, but keep your distance while you appreciate its beauty so you don’t scare it off.
How many places have your bird watching adventures taken you? Be sure to keep track of your travels as you add more bird species to your life list!